Online Law School
Interested in Law?
Although online law schools are not accredited by the American Bar Association, it is entirely possible for people interested in law and its associated fields to earn a viable law degree while attending an online law school. However, some states permit those who have successfully graduated from an online law school not accredited by the ABA to take the bar exam, as long as the online schools has been approved by state educational regulatory committees. These states are West Virginia, California, Connecticut, Tennessee, Alabama and Massachusetts.
Alternatively, some states (Arizona, for example) may not allow a graduate of an online law school to take the bar exam because the majority of online law schools are not accredited. However, graduates may take the ABA exam in California and Massachusetts, which does allow graduates of online law schools to sit in on that state’s ABA exam. Passing the Bar examination is essential to receiving a legitimate law degree allowing someone to legally practice law in the U.S. and its territories. This two-day exam consists of essay questions meant to test the student’s knowledge of general legal concepts as well as that state’s own regulated laws.
California entertains different regulations concerning degrees earned by those attending an online law school. When a school is registered with the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California, they possess the ability to grant a J.D. (Juris Doctor) law degree. Students are required to pass the First Year Law Students’ Examination, also referred to as the “Baby Bar”, which is given by the Committee of Bar Examiners. Once a student passes this exam, he or she can pursue a degree as a Juris Doctor.
One such online school established in California in 1998 is the Concord Law School, one of the top online law schools available. Representing an innovative and comprehensive online law degree program maintaining standards that are commensurate with the most demanding of traditional law universities, the Concord Law School retains an impressive alumni consisting of law professors who graduated from Yale, Harvard, MIT and Columbia University.
To attend Concord online law school, potential students must have already received a Bachelor’s degree and provide relevant transcript information from previously attended colleges or universities. Concord offers three different degrees:
The Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree offered by Concord is a part-time, four year program grounded in fundamental bar classes consisting of logic concepts, the Socratic method, constitutional law, legal research and strategy and analysis of select legal cases, such as:
- Marbury vs. Madison (1803)
- Charles Manson Trial (1969)
- Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education (1951)
- United States vs. Klein (1872)
- Abrams vs. United States (1919)
- Miranda vs. Arizona (1966)
- Gideon vs. Wainright (1961)
A Juris Doctor degree is necessary before pursuing a full-fledged law degree. Students enrolled in Concord’s J.D. program must complete at least 24 units of classwork for each of the four years they attend online school at Concord.
Executive Juris Doctor Degree
This is an exclusive law degree provided by Concord that represents an exciting and fascinating alternative to a Juris Doctor degree. Courses delineating the E.J.D program involve emphasis on analytical reasoning, sharpening knowledge of specific laws and enhancing communication skills necessary for being a successful attorney. In addition, this degree is perfect for people who are interesting in tackling a challenging set of courses but do not have the inclination to address state requirements necessary to becoming a bar member.
Other excellent online law schools provide bachelor’s and master’s programs for those just beginning their career in legal studies. These are Walden University (Master’s in Public Administration and Law), Kaplan University (Master’s of Science in Legal Studies) and Post University (Bachelor’s of Science in Legal Studies).
Prerequisites Needed to Attend Online Law School
Prior to enrolling in an online law school students will need to have receive a bachelor’s degree in pre-law from a university or college offering this program. Pre-laws courses include a variety of liberal arts and communication classes that emphasize critical thinking and logical analysis such as:
- Political science
- Public speaking
- Expository writing
Enrollment Process for Online Law Schools
Enrollment procedures generally consist of the following steps:
- Find the right law school for you
- Contact the school’s administrative offices to express interest in their online law school program
- Fill out and electronically sign a formal application of enrollment. These can be emailed directly to the school
- Non-refundable application fees apply for all online schools. Fees are usually around $100.
- Submit transcripts of courses and grades obtained at previous colleges or universities one enrollment form is accepted
- Sign up for classes and request necessary books and/or software
- Apply for financial aid or pay for the first semester in full or by using one of the school’s payment programs
Financial Information Regarding Online Law Schools
For those who qualify, financial aid is available by filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Prospective students can do this online and receive a notification concerning eligibility within four to six weeks. Pell grants provide financial assistance for tuition, books and other expenses involved with completing the an online law school program and may cover the entire cost of tuition depending on the needs of the student. Click here to find out more on FAFSA.
If a student does not qualify for financial assistance, all online law schools implement a variety of payment plans designed to accommodate any budget. Generally, the cost of attending one of these schools averages anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 annually, depending on the program and degree desired.
To access online law school classes and applications used in the learning process, students should have the use of a reliable computer with a high-speed internet connection and sound card. RAM capability should be around 256 Mb or greater, with browsers preferably being Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer (6.0+). Microsoft Word or similar word processing software program should be installed and operable on the computer as well.
Online Class Structure
Typically, online law school classes are held at certain times of the day, much like traditional colleges, but attending each class is not as imperative as it is when attending “brick and mortar” schools. However, all assignments need to be turned in as requested by the professor and all exams needs completed as well. Students are also able to email teachers or other classmates if clarification regarding an assignment is desired. In addition, interaction via chat forums is encouraged among classmates as well, especially with a discipline such as legal studies. Discussing ideas, theories, strategies and analytic discourse with fellow students is an excellent way to enhance critical thinking skills that will reinforce the ability of a future lawyer to successfully argue a case.
Time Needed to Obtain an Online Law Degree and Starting Salaries
Typically, a student enrolled in a part-time online law program completes their studies within three years. A successful graduate armed with a law degree can expect to earn an average of $50,000 to $70,000, and even up to $150,000, depending on clientele, type of law practiced and city in which he or she is practicing. Beginning lawyers choosing to practice in larger, metropolitan areas such as New York City or Chicago will earn substantially more than those who establish a private practice in a rural area, where incomes are much lower.
What is the American Bar Association?
The ABA is comprised of over 400,000 professional lawyers who voluntarily regulate this association with the goal of improving all aspects of the U.S. legal system. The American Bar Association is responsible for accrediting law schools, implementing educational programs concerning law and working with the public to ensure all citizens are served equally in maintaining liberty and promoting justice. The majority of degreed, reputable lawyers belong to the ABA. Click here to find out more on The American Bar Association.
Jobs Requiring Law Degrees
Obtaining an online law degree provides the ability to apply for and qualify for a wide variety of jobs. Some of these include:
- Civil Rights Investigator
- Bankruptcy Administrator
- Parole Officer
- FBI Special Agent
- Safety and Occupational Health Specialist
- Intelligence Officer
- Visa and Passport Specialist
- Child Abuse Investigator
Enrolling in an online law school and earning a degree enables anyone to embark on an exciting and versatile career in a field where qualified, well-informed and skilled employees are consistently in demand.